July 31, 2002

Cummins unveils national power maintenance program


In response to the growing need for remote maintenance of distributed power systems, Cummins Power Generation, Minneapolis, recently introduced a nationwide power maintenance program that will make use of is distributor network of 150 locations to provide 24/7 service. The PowerCare Advantage program is designed to identify minor service issues before they become more expensive performance issues.

The company will staff the project with its own certified technicians who are trained on all makes of engines, generators, switchgear, and transfer switches. The program is customizable to suit varying needs.

For more information, contact Dave Tovar at david.j.tovar@cummins.com.



July 31, 2002

Baldor motors recognized for energy efficiency

For the fourth year in a row, Baldor, Fort Smith, Ark., was the only manufacturer to achieve 100% compliance of totally enclosed fan-cooled and open drip-proof motors that meet or exceed NEMA Premium efficiency criteria, earning recognition in a recent report by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency. The report spotlighted the company’s Super E motors.

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency launched its premium efficiency motors initiative in 1996 to encourage the manufacture and sale of energy-efficient industrial motors. For the initiative, the group developed efficiency specifications for 114 classes of motors that are, on average, 1% to 2% higher than the federal minimum standards required by the Energy Policy Act of 1992.



July 29, 2002

Energy companies putting new construction on hold

With energy companies delivering weak earnings statements to Wall Street and the cost of credit rising as a result of recent credit downgrades, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently expressed concerns before a Senate committee that new power plant construction will fall behind, exacerbating current problems with the nation’s transmission grids.

Energy firms have put on hold plans to build almost 92,000 MW of construction since the start of 2002, according to Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Ala.), and most of those shelved projects are located in the West, where power shortages continue to plague energy users.

According to Pat Wood, chairman of FERC, announcements of new power plant buildouts have “dropped off dramatically.” He blames credit downgrades for escalating the cost of credit in the electrical distribution industry, contributing to many companies’ reticence to make capital investments. Recent news of lackluster earnings in the energy sector have also hurt those companies’ stock prices, forcing them to cut budgets for expansion.

Despite the bleak outlook FERC presented to the committee last week, some Wall Street analysts still believe there is hope, particularly if groups like FERC more aggressively investigate improprieties like price manipulation, sham power trades, and long-term power contracts. “Though much maligned, we believe energy trading is still a viable business,” says Carol Coale, senior vice president at Prudential Securities.



July 29, 2002

Howard Industries breaks ground on power transformer production facility

Coming on the heels of the announcement that it would move into the power transformer marketplace, Howard Industries, Laurel, Miss., recently unveiled plans for a new 150,000 sq ft production facility to house the new division. The company currently manufacturers 10,000 KVA and as high as 34.5kV transformers, but those produced at the new facility will be as large as 60 MVA and as high as 230kV.

The $20,000,000 facility will be completed late Q4 2002 or early Q1 2003 and located in Ellisville, Miss., near the company’s new technology park. The company expects the new plant to create between 400 and 500 new jobs that will range from production personnel to sales and marketing positions.



July 26, 2002

IEC searches for 2003 conference speakers

The Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) Annual Convention and Electric Expo 2002 hasn’t even taken place yet, but the group is already planning for next year. The group officially distributed a call for 2003 convention presentations for the 46th Annual Convention and Electrical Expo 2003, to be held from September 10-13 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Ca.

At the top of their list for potential presenters are industry experts who can incorporate case studies. The convention’s organizers are also looking for speakers who can offer the most current information on topics including strategies for successful business growth, expansion and diversification of services to meet changing customer needs, and tactics for successful workforce recruitment and retention.

Proposals and suggestions for speakers are due by August 23, 2002. For more information, call IEC at (703) 549-7351 or email education@ieci.org.



July 26, 2002

Grace Engineered Products to market RemLive products stateside

Grace Engineered Products, Davenport, Ia., recently signed an agreement with RemLive, West Yorkshire, England, to market the company’s electrical safety voltage alert products in North America.

Phil Allen, president of Grace Engineered Products, believes RemLive’s line of flashing indicators that remind workers of hazardous voltages in electrical enclosures will be a good addition to his company’s GracePort interface products.



July 24, 2002

NFPA approves, readies NFPA 5000 standard for release

After months of deliberation and a lengthy voting process, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently announced that NFPA 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code has been approved.

NFPA 5000 contains provisions for the design and construction of buildings and structures, as well as the design of integrated building systems for health, safety, comfort and convenience. It provides for the selection and design of building construction types and structural design systems and assemblies, as well as fire protection and egress design requirements for life safety and protection.

NFPA hopes to make the standard the cornerstone of the Comprehensive Consensus Codes (C3), a set of standards developed through a partnership with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The C3 group of standards will include the National Electrical Code and cover topics like the National Fire Code and flammable and combustible liquids.

Upon publication, the standard will be available for free review online by the public through NFPA’s Web site, www.nfpa.org.



July 24, 2002

Copper Development releases CD-ROM on premium-efficiency motors

For those looking to cut energy costs in industrial and commercial facilities – and let’s face it, who isn’t these days? – the Copper Development Association recently developed and released a CD-ROM that explains how to save money by selecting motors and transformers on the basis of energy efficiency rather than initial cost.

“Premium-Efficiency Motors & Transformers” examines some mechanical aspects of efficient motors and transformers, how they are made, and how they differ from standard products, as well as why they are worth the premium that may be paid at the time of purchase. Video segments show side-by-side comparisons of premium and standard products and highlights of manufacturing. The CD-ROM explains how to perform the simple math to analyze the total cost of ownership and details tools available to help make the right selection.

The disc is free and can be ordered via the organization’s Web site, http://powerquality.copper.org, or by phone at 888-480-6687.



July 22, 2002

U.S. Court of Appeals upholds executive order restricting PLAs

After facing opposition from the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, Executive Order 13202 was recently upheld by a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The order, which prohibits project labor agreements (PLAs) on federally funded and assisted construction projects, had been struck down in August 2001 when the AFL-CIO sued to bar its enforcement and a District of Columbia federal judge found in favor of the union.

A PLA is a binding agreement between a labor union and the federal government establishing basic terms and conditions for the duration of the project. Common components of a PLA include paying union wages and benefits, requiring union job classifications, and arbitration procedures.

In the ruling, the Court of Appeals held that Article II of the U.S. Constitution grants the president broad supervisory authority over the executive branch in the administration of federally funded projects and that an executive order restricting the use of PLAs on federal construction projects falls within that supervisory authority.



July 22, 2002

CSI, CMD renew partnership

In the hopes of fostering a more collaborative environment in the construction information industry, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and CMD recently announced they have signed a five-year agreement to produce and exchange information, products, and programs.

In a ceremony at the 2002 CSI Show, representatives from both organizations outlined several projects the two sides plan to cooperate on, including:

  • Providing for the exchange of information regarding construction practices, and technology and industry news.

  • Developing projects and services to better serve their customers and members and the construction community at large.

  • Providing customers and members with quick and economical access to both organizations’ offerings.

In addition, the two groups will promote and distribute each other’s products and services.



July 19, 2002

Environmentalist groups debate proposed Cape Cod wind farm

Amid a hotly contested debate among local environmentalists, plans for a $500 million wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., are moving forward with the announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers was asked to give the go-ahead for a $2 million grant for a 180-ft test tower. The proposed project, which would include 170 turbine windmills and produce 420MW, would occupy a 28-sq mi. site in Nantucket Sound between Hyannis on the Cape and Nantucket Island.

Those who support the project claim the turbines could generate half the energy needs of the island, but opponents fear the 400-ft towers will endanger birds, fish, and other wildlife. Residents are also worried the array will spoil the skyline of the island.

Proponents, like the Conservation Law Foundation and Greenpeace have focused on the potential for pollution-free energy. According to the CLF, the test tower is an “investment in research and development for a new energy resource of vital importance to our region and nation.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release its determination on the tower’s potential effects on endangered species today.



July 19, 2002

NFPA sets deadline for submission of proposed changes to NEC

Sure, the 2002 National Electrical Code hasn’t even been on your shelf long enough to start gathering dust, but the process to begin updating it has already begun. The deadline for the first phase of the next edition is fast approaching, and proposals for changes for the 2005 NEC must be received at NFPA headquarters by 5:00 p.m. EST on November 1, 2002.

Those interested in submitting proposals may do so by mail, fax, or the Web at www.nfpa.org/Codes/ProposalsAndComments.asp. A 2005 NEC proposal form is also located in the back of the 2002 edition, or you can download a copy in PDF form from www.nfpa.org or www.necdigest.org.



July 17, 2002

Chicago police learn benefits of on-site power

With energy costs showing no signs of declining and summer temperatures rising, the Chicago Police Department is turning to distributed generation to save money this summer. Windsor, Colo.-based Encorp and Siemens Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, Ill., recently completed an installation for the department that will supply 10MW of on-site power in the event that the utility grid should fail.

The $400,000 project, which the city hopes will eliminate downtime, problems with 911 service, and additional costs during peak times, involved the retrofitting of six emergency backup generators, four of which were located at the police station.

Part of the Preparedness Campaign and Energy Plan, the project is the first step toward the city’s goal of providing 1.3 billion kWh of distributed generation to the electrical grid by 2010.



July 15, 2002

NECA partners with NEMA to release cable tray installation standard

Adding to its ongoing series of National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS), NECA recently released NECA/NEMA 105-2002, Recommended Practice for Installing Metal Cable Trays. The standard covers installation and maintenance procedures for metal cable tray systems used to support power and communications cabling and is the first NEIS to be produced in partnership with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

The standard was developed by NEMA’s Cable Tray Section and will be published by NECA. It is the 17th publication in the NEIS series and the ninth to be jointly produced with another industry group.

NECA/NEMA 105-2002 is $25 and can be ordered via phone at (301) 215-4504 or email by contacting orderdesk@necanet.org.



July 15, 2002

3M teams with Fluke to offer cabling installation training program

Recognizing the need for education in the increasingly popular field of information networking, Fluke Networks, Everett, Wash., and 3M, St. Paul, Minn., recently announced they will come join forces to offer a hands-on training course for cabling professional responsible for installing and maintaining high-speed structured cabling systems. Participants who complete the course will also become Fluke Networks certification.

The training course will teach cabling installers how to use Fluke digital cabling test tools to test 3M’s cabling, in particular, the company’s Volition Network Solutions, a system used to deploy a variety of architectures, including fiber-to-the-desk with VF-45TM technology.

For more information about the course, visit www.3m.com/market/telecom/training/index.jhtml.



July 12, 2002

SkillsUSA recognizes young electrical workers for leadership skills

Putting to the test the leadership qualities and skills of some of the best and brightest up-and-comers in the electrical industry, SkillsUSA-VICA recently held its 38th annual Leadership Conference and Championship, awarding 6 high school and postsecondary students with gold, silver and bronze medals in the category of industrial motor control. Aside from the electrical industry, 14 other disciplines were represented at the conference, including metal technology, public service, and construction technology.

The contests, held at Kansas City, Mo.’s H.R. Bartle Hall, were run and judged by representatives of industry using industry performance standards. The total in-kind contributions from industry and education – in donated time, equipment, and material – is valued at $25 million.

The winners in the electrical categories were as follows:

Industrial Motor Control (High School)

  • Gold – Thomas McCarter

  • Silver – Nick Dascoulias

  • Bronze – Chad Luptowski

Industrial Motor Control (Postsecondary)

  • Gold – Curtis Steinert

  • Silver – Lucas Owen

  • Bronze – Blaine Bechtel





July 12, 2002

Philips launches Web site to promote induction lighting system

Royal Philips Electronics, Somerset, N.J., recently unveiled a Web site (www.ql-lighting.com) highlighting the uses and benefits of its QL System induction lighting technology. The system is used at London’s Big Bend, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and the City of Philadelphia’s Municipal Energy Office.

The site features case studies, sample design applications, and benefits of the technology. The lighting system is designed for a range of outdoor (cities and college campuses) and indoor (industrial plants and retailers) applications.



July 10, 2002

Fire alarm specialists, inspectors stress importance of surge protection

With the increase in popularity of low-voltage technology, electrical systems are more susceptible to transient damage and malfunction, and system designers need to put more thought into surge protection on the AC power line and data/communications lines, which feed into fire alarm systems, according to the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFFA) and other industry analysts. Nearly 30% to 40% of all damaging transients enter a system via the AC circuit, but an even greater number come in by way of 48V phone lines.

“Lightning storms render too many fire alarms inoperable, especially in mutlibuilding complexes connected with cable,” says Whitney Crahen, a fire protection specialist who reviews fire alarm plans for the city of San Antonio. “When lightning hits, it can spread hundreds of feet until it finds the path of least resistance – all too often the highly conductive copper wiring that feeds into life safety alarm systems.”

Making the problem of damaging transients more troublesome is the increased use of low-voltage systems. New data circuits that run on 3V can be damaged by relatively small overvoltages that wouldn’t even be enough to power older analog components.

The solution, according to Crahen, the NBFAA, and others is the addition of aftermarket surge protection. According to a May 2000 NBFAA brief, “By installing a surge protection device at the electrical outlet where the transformer is plugged in, you allow the damaging transient to be bypassed to ground before it gets to the control panel, thereby greatly reducing the potential for false alarms and/or damage to the control board. The same is true when you install surge protection on the phone line prior to it entering the panel.”

Although most system components have built-in protection that meets UL requirements, it doesn’t prevent transients from entering sensitive panels, which can disrupt function in life-saving systems like fire alarms. Aftermarket protection, specifically surge protectors that self-restore after dissipating the surge to ground, can help keep these critical systems online. Self-restoring surge protectors wait for a predetermined voltage to be achieved, clamp the overvoltage, shunting it to ground, then automatically reset themselves to passive mode until it happens again. When a catastrophic surge is detected, self-restoring devices “self-sacrifice” like single-use devices, protecting sensitive equipment from damage.

Regardless of what protection device you use, however, taking the step to add aftermarket protection is critical to the proper operation of fire alarm systems. Crahen suggests even going a step further. “Proper surge protection for fire alarms is a requirement,” he says. “And enforcing it will eliminate many future problems.”

Information for this article compiled by DITEK, Largo, Fla.



July 10, 2002

UL awards “grandfather of the GFCI” with public safety award

Jack Wells, vice president of corporate development for Pass & Seymour/Legrand and the grandfather of the GFCI, recently received the Underwriters Laboratory President’s Award for longstanding dedication to public safety. The award is presented to an industry representative who demonstrates “world-class contributions to public safety and is supportive directly or indirectly of UL’s public safety mission.”

“For more than 30 years, Jack has focused instinctively and broadly on public safety and has taken the high road in everything he has done,” says Loring W. Knoblock, president and CEO of UL. “He has provided the highest level of leadership and he knows his business, his industry, and the people in it superbly well.”

Wells was the original product manager for the first ground-fault circuit interrupter, which was developed by Pass & Seymour more than 30 years ago.



July 8, 2002

TIA publishes standard for Cat. 6 cabling systems

After five years of development, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) recently published its standard for Cat. 6 cabling systems, TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1, addressing the need for a cabling system with improved transmission performance to support future applications.

The new category 6 standard, which is an addendum to the TIA/EIA-568-B series of commercial building cabling standards, specifies requirements for 100-ohm balanced twisted-pair cables, connecting hardware, patch cords, channels and permanent links, and provides test procedures for laboratory and field performance verification over the frequency range of 1 MHz to 250 MHz. Because Cat. 6 supports positive power sum attenuation to crosstalk (PSACR) margins up to 200 MHz, this new cabling system offers double the bandwidth of Cat. 5e cabling and vastly improved signal-to-noise margins. The Cat. 6 standard also includes cable and connecting hardware balance recommendations for improved electromagnetic compatibility performance.



July 8, 2002

ElectricSmarts.com creates virtual marketplace with Surplus Exchange

At the 2002 Electric Show in New York, ElectricSmarts.com unveiled an expansion to its Web site, Surplus Exchange, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers to buy and sell surplus electrical inventory. New products will be listed by professional liquidators, manufacturers, distributors, and contractors.

In addition, the site will soon offer an email and fax “hot sheet” service to keep the market updated on the list of new surplus material for sale.



July 5, 2002

IEEE adds a standard, updates another

IEEE has given the go-ahead for work on a new standard, IEEE P1614, Guide for Monitoring, Information Exchange and Control of Distributed Resources Interconnected with Electric Power Systems. It has also approved work on a revision to a standard concerned with for automatic line sectionalizers on AC systems.

IEEE P1614 will provide guidelines for monitoring, control, and exchange of information with distributed resources, such as fuel cells, photovoltaics, wind turbines and microturbines, that are interconnected with or associated with electric power systems.

The revision of the standard IEEE PC37.63, Standard Requirements for Overhead, Pad-mounted, Dry-vault, and Submersible Automatic Line Sectionalizers for AC Systems, will align it with the latest edition of IEEE P1247, which addresses interrupter switches.



July 5, 2002

Interstate Wire release new catalog

Interstate Wire Company, Dallas, celebrated its 25th anniversary by releasing its new .pdf format master catalog. The new format will allow users to display and print pages from the printed version.

The document can either be downloaded from the company’s Web site (www.interstatewire.com) or requested by e-mail at sales@interstatewire.com. The catalog is also available on CD-ROM as an installable program including access to Belden’s master catalog.



July 3, 2002

Frost & Sullivan recognizes Reliable Power Meters with award

In recognition of its “significant product performance contribution to the industry,” Reliable Power Meters (RPM), Los Gatos, Calif., was recently selected by Frost & Sullivan as the recipient of its 2002 Market Engineering Technology Innovation award for its Full Disclosure measurement technology. The technology, which is an integral part of all RPM power monitors, eliminates the need to set thresholds or trigger levels to record power quality disturbances, including sags, swells, transients, and flicker.

“With Full Disclosure technology, RPM has successfully expanded this area of power quality service as monitoring products previously only measured above or below manually set thresholds,” said Sara Bradford, Frost & Sullivan analyst, in explaining why RPM was chosen.



July 3, 2002

S&C purchases switching system product line from Trench

With hopes to enhance its power quality offering, S&C Electric, Chicago, recently purchased the Adaptive VAR compensator product line from Trench Limited of Canada, Scarborough, Ontario. The product line will now be marketed as PureWave AVC.

Pioneered by Trench in 1990 in cooperation with the University of Washington, the AVC technology included in the VAR compensator uses power-electronic switching to provide variable amounts of reactive compensation on a cycle-by-cycle basis.

The new product line will be the newest member of S&C’s family of power-electronic switching systems.



July 1, 2002

Northern Power to design, install solar power system for Mass. research center

The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), Falmouth, Mass., recently commissioned Northern Power Systems, Waitsfield, Vt., to design and install a 26.4kW photovoltaic system that will generate almost 37,000kWh of electricity annually at its Ordway campus, allowing the building to supply all of its own energy. The project is part of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s $14.6 million Green Buildings Initiative started in May.

As designed, the building will produce all of its energy by way of renewable sources. Northern Power Systems will design and install silicon rooftop panels, which will convert solar energy into electricity. The building will remain connected to the grid, however, in the event that renewable sources are inadequate for satisfying short-term energy needs.



July 1, 2002

Arlington wins patent infringement case against Bridgeport Fittings

Nearly three years after taking Bridgeport Fittings to court for copyright infringement, Arlington Industries won its case when a federal jury found that its patent for covered plastic box extenders was infringed upon by the Stratford, Conn.-based company. The jury awarded Scranton, Pa.-based Arlington with damages and rejected Bridgeport’s defenses that the patent was invalid, indefinite, and unenforceable for inequitable conduct.

In an independent decision, a federal district court judge rejected Bridgeport’s claim of inequitable conduct. A permanent injunction will be issued against Bridgeport sometime this week.